Is Durian Good for Diabetes? (Benefits vs Risks)

Durian is a fruit that has been shown to have some potential benefits for those living with diabetes. However, there are also risks associated with eating durian, such as its high sulfur content. In this article, we will outline the benefits of durian for those with diabetes and the risks.

What is Durian, and where does it come from?

Durian is a fruit with pale yellow or green flesh and an interior filled with numerous seeds. It is native to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Bangladesh but can also be found in parts of China. Durians can range from about 7 ounces up to more than 30 pounds. Its scientific name is Durio zibethinus and is called as king of fruits.

There are multiple varieties of durian, with some of them having spines while others don’t. The spiny varieties are more common in Thailand, while the non-spiny varieties are grown in Malaysia. Durians grow on trees that can reach heights of up to 130 feet, which is why it’s often difficult to find fresh ones, particularly outside of southeast Asia.

The flesh of the durian is soft and custardy, which has caused some to compare its texture to that of ice cream. Its flesh can be yellow or white, with a strong odor that many describe as unpleasant. The taste is also not well-liked by those who are unaccustomed to it. However, the taste has been compared to a mix of strawberries and cream for those who like it.

Is Durian Good for Diabetes?

Durian is a tasty fruit that is high in fiber and sugar content. Durian has a medium glycemic index of 58, which can cause blood glucose spikes if taken in large quantities.

Additionally, durian is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, including quercetin, adiponectin, and serotonin. These compounds may help reduce the risk of developing diabetes-related complications such as atherosclerosis, neuropathy, nephropathy, and retinopathy.

7 health benefits of Durian for those living with diabetes

In recent years, diabetes has been a growing concern for many people, and the disease is rising, with more than 400 million people suffering from it worldwide. To help those who are living with diabetes as well as those around them, here are 7 health benefits of Durian that can be incorporated into their diet.

#1 Durian has High Fiber Content

Durian is known for its high fiber content, which means that it can help to regulate blood sugar levels.

The National Diabetes Education Program, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, states that fiber-rich foods can help lower blood sugar levels by slowing down digestion, resulting in a smaller release of glucose into the blood.

The NDEP also states that one cup of durian contains 18 grams of fiber, approximately 50% of the daily recommended intake (about 35 grams per day).

#2 Durian has anti-inflammatory properties

Durian is packed full of antioxidants, which can help to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of many diseases, including diabetes, and it’s also one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease.

The main cause of inflammation in our body is oxidative stress, which results from free radicals that damage tissues and cells throughout the body. Antioxidants act as scavengers by binding to these free radicals before damaging the tissues and cells.

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Durian can help reduce oxidative stress by promoting the release of antioxidant enzymes. The antioxidants in durian can also activate anti-inflammatory pathways and suppress pro-inflammatory genes involved in many chronic diseases, like stroke and cardiovascular disease.

#3 Durian has an impressive nutritional profile

The nutrition in durian is packed full of vital components necessary for optimal health. First and foremost is its caloric content. A 100-gram serving of the flesh from red durians contains 357 calories, roughly equivalent to eggs or beef liver.

Durian has a high content of vitamin C in durian, which helps to stave off infection and disease. For those who do not know, vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient and one of the most abundant vitamins in living organisms. It occurs as the name suggests: ascorbic acid or its salt form, sodium ascorbate. Durians also contain appreciable minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and folate.

As a popular fruit for many people worldwide, nutrients from durians can be beneficial to one’s health if taken in controlled quantities. As with any food, moderation is always best when taking them in.

#4 Durian has been shown to help prevent diabetes complications

Durian has been shown to help prevent diabetes complications in both insulin-dependent diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

A recent study in Thailand has found that durian plays a role in reducing the risk of major diabetic complications. The study was done on 24,000 Thais with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and its effects were measured over four years. Researchers found that those who ate the most durian had a reduced risk of diabetic retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy.

Neuropathy is the most common complication in T2DM that causes numbness or pain in the legs or arms, interfering with daily activities. Diabetic retinopathy is a disease that causes loss of vision, and nephropathy is kidney disease. There is no specific treatment for these complications, but researchers say that eating durian can reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy by 48%. Diabetic nephropathy was reduced by 25%, and neuropathy was reduced by 37%.

#5 Durian can improve digestion and relieve constipation

During digestion, carbohydrates in durian are fermented by gut bacteria. As a result, it serves as a prebiotic, feeding beneficial lactic acid bacteria in the gut microbiome that support digestive processes and colon health. Durian’s fiber also adds bulk to stools and promotes consistency.

Prebiotics are non-digestible nutrients that support digestion and colon health by promoting the growth of beneficial lactic acid bacteria in the gut microbiome. Fiber is a prebiotic, and durian is an excellent source of dietary fiber. A 100 g serving of durian provides 27 g of fiber, almost 70% of the daily recommended intake (DRI).

#6 Durian is good for pregnant women

Folate is a B vitamin that is required for normal fetal brain development. This fruit can help people of childbearing age in Southeast Asia get necessary folate, as it is popular there. Folate insufficiency has severe implications for early pregnancy since it prevents the proper growth and development of cells in the fetus’s body. Durian has been studied for its concentration of folate, which may help pregnant women avoid these complications if they are having difficulty meeting their dietary requirements through other means.

Folate deficiency also increases an individual’s risk for cancer, heart disease, stroke, and neural tube defects like spina bifida – all diseases with debilitating consequences to both the sufferer and their family.

#7 Durian can protect the heart

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. Durian is rich in potassium, which may assist to lower blood pressure and protect the heart. Durian is also high in unsaturated fats and fiber, which are important nutrients for optimal heart health.

Risks associated with eating too much Durian if you have diabetes

Durian is a fruit that many people enjoy all over the world. However, there are some risks associated with eating too much of it if you have diabetes. Its high sugar content can cause blood sugar levels to spike if consumed in excess, and its potassium content can cause problems for those with kidney disease.

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If you have kidney disease, you should avoid eating too much durian because its high potassium content could cause your kidneys. If you have allergy symptoms after eating durian, you should avoid it going forward. There have been cases in which people have suffered from a reaction similar to a contact dermatitis reaction when exposed to the fruit.

Durian can also cause some people to experience digestive discomfort. Some people have reported suffering from severe abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, and stomach aches after eating it, attributed to its high sulfur content. If you feel these side effects when eating durian, you should cut back on how much of the fruit you consume.

How to eat Durian if you have diabetes

Durian has a delicious taste that may be too good to resist—but it can negatively affect people with diabetes.

The best way to avoid these negative effects is by sticking to a healthy diet, but if you love durian fruit as most people do, how can you still enjoy its sweet taste without overloading on carbs?

You should eat durian in small portions and mix it with other foods that won’t spike your blood sugar levels. For instance, try eating some durian with yogurt or cottage cheese for breakfast. Not only will this help prevent diabetes-related health issues from developing further, but the other foods will also enhance the flavor of the durian.

Although you should always eat the fruit in moderation, there are precautions that you can take to reduce the carbohydrate and sugar content of your durian. The right time to eat durian is between meals when your blood sugar levels are already high, and make sure you only eat one or two servings of durian during that time.

It’s also a good idea to eat durian during the early stages of your meal when your stomach is empty. Doing so will help you avoid gaining weight due to the high-fat content in the fruit.

Consult your doctor or a registered dietitian to get more creative with your durian recipe ideas or learn how diabetes can be managed. They can help you understand how to eat durian without causing any detrimental effects to your health.

As delicious as it is, there are reasons why people with diabetes should be careful when eating durian fruit. By following the tips listed above, you can still enjoy the sweet taste of this alluring tropical fruit without causing any negative effects on your health.

What are the alternatives to Durian for people living with diabetes?

A few of my readers have requested a list of healthy, lower-calorie alternatives for durian that taste great. So here’s a list to get you started, from best(most) to least:

Mango

Skip the durian and try eating a mango instead! You can buy them in most grocery stores or your local farmers’ market, and they come in different shapes and sizes, some straight from Hawaii or Mexico. And if you don’t like the slippery texture of mango, add a little salt to it!

Kiwi

Kiwi fruit has been known for being loaded with antioxidants, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. It is also known to help reduce the risk of asthma, diabetes, and arthritis.

Strawberries

I love strawberries because they are like an explosion of sweet goodness in your mouth! And don’t get me started on all the health benefits (like high antioxidant levels and high fiber content). Add them to your salads, eat them with yogurt or bite into one plain! You can’t go wrong.

Blackberries

Just like their red counterparts, blackberries are also high in antioxidants. You can add them to brownies or eat them alone!

Oranges

Oranges are not only delicious, but they can reduce the risk of asthma, cancer, heart disease, and stroke. They are also high in Vitamin C (one orange has 70% of your daily recommended vitamin c intake), which helps strengthen our immunity against all types of diseases.

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Blueberries

The more you eat, the better (especially for older people)! These little gems can help improve memory and delay or slow down Alzheimer’s disease. They’re also known to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as lower blood pressure.

Guava

It is a great alternative if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, as it helps boost your body’s immunity. It also has high vitamin A and C levels, which is beneficial during those times. It contains a good amount of dietary fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol levels and prevent constipation. They’re great on salads, or just eat them plain!

Apple

One of my favorites. I love sliced apples for lunch with some cottage cheese or dipped in some yogurt (Greek is one of the lowest-fat types)! Apples are also great for pregnant women as they have high dietary fiber levels, which help reduce constipation and cholesterol levels. They’re also loaded with antioxidants, reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Pear

Finally, a fruit that’s low in calories and full of vitamins! I’m sure you’ve all heard about the health benefits of pears (low in calories, high in fiber, and vitamin C). Just make sure you don’t add too much sugar or honey because it can turn into a calorie fest.

A word of caution: The foods like pineapple, watermelon, jack fruit, and papaya are notorious for their high glycemic index. So they should be avoided if you are a diabetic patient.

Conclusion

Durian is a fruit that has been shown to have some potential benefits for those living with diabetes. These benefits include its high potassium content, which can help lower blood pressure and protect the heart, and its high fiber and unsaturated fat content. However, there are also risks associated with eating durian, such as its high sulfur content. In addition, those with kidney disease should avoid eating too much durian because of its high potassium content. People who have reactions after eating durian should avoid it going forward. Finally, those with diabetes should eat durian in moderation and mix it with other foods that won’t spike their blood sugar levels.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does durian cause diabetes?

Answer: The durian fruit doesn’t cause diabetes, but it is high in sugar and can contribute to blood sugar spikes for people who are diabetic. For people who are diabetic, it’s important to monitor blood sugar levels carefully when eating high-sugar foods like durian.
Durian is also a good source of dietary fiber, which can help regulate blood sugar levels. So for people without diabetes, the benefits of dietary fiber may outweigh the risks posed by the fruit’s high sugar content.

Does durian raise blood sugar?

Answer: Yes, durian does raise blood sugar levels. When eaten in moderation, durian is a healthy fruit that can provide many health benefits. However, if you are diabetic or prediabetic, you should avoid eating too much durian because it can raise your blood sugar levels. Consult with your doctor to see how much durian is right for you.

Is durian okay for diabetics?

Answer: Durian is okay for diabetics as long as it is consumed in moderation. This fruit is high in sugar and carbohydrates, so people with diabetes need to watch their intake. However, durian does have some health benefits that make it worth including in a healthy diet. It’s a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium

Is durian high glycemic?

Answer: The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food causes a rise in blood sugar levels. foods with a high GI are bad for you because they cause a rapid and large increase in blood sugar levels. This can lead to problems such as weight gain, type II diabetes, and heart disease.
Durian has a medium GI of 58, which means it causes only a moderate rise in blood sugar levels. This makes durian a relatively healthy choice for people with diabetes or those who are trying to lose weight. However, it’s still best to eat durian in moderation because like all foods, it has the potential to cause problems if eaten in excess.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137565/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC161739/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28093633/#:~:text=Dietary%20potassium%20may%20neutralize%20acid,older%20men%20and%20postmenopausal%20women

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168192/nutrients

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/type2.html#:~:text=More%20than%2034%20million%20Americans,adults%20are%20also%20developing%20it

https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition/eating-well/diabetes-superstar-foods

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18937894

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/09422

Dr Sharon Baisil MD

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